GTD Inc | Date: 2015-06-11
A method and a system for viewing weather hazards which is on-board an aircraft. The system (300) includes communication means (330) for receiving weather information relating to a given region, a processor (310) for determining, at each point of the region, the future instant at which the vehicle would reach this point, an expert system (340) for estimating, at each point of the region, from the weather information and the future instant, the weather hazard at that point, and a graphic interface (360) for displaying, at each point of the region, the weather hazards thus estimated by the expert system.
News Article | May 11, 2015
Handmade jewelry isn’t just nice to look at; it can also be a powerful teaching tool. Dana Mauriello is using online crafting to help residents of underserved neighborhoods learn business basics. Her five-week program, called Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship, helps students create their own online store while learning about marketing, pricing, accounting, and other subjects. "We’re teaching pride and empowerment," says Mauriello. "One of the things I’m most proud of is when [participants] say, ‘I feel like I now have skills that people care about and that matter.’" After pilot programs in 10 cities—more than 450 people have participated since the first class launched in 2013 in Rockford, Illinois—Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship is now expanding nationwide. Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration? I am obsessive with finding, cataloging, and doing new activities. A dancefloor meditation? A talk on game design? A tattoo convention? Done, done, and done. I am on an endless quest to learn about and personally experience as many diverse subcultures as possible and never leave home without my adventure backpack and a notebook so that I can collect inspiration and log new ideas. What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I think about what I'm most excited about in the day ahead. Since the first thing I see when I open my eyes, is my window, that answer is often: 'Sunshine!' What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people? Even with a community of over 1.3 million active sellers, we still refer to sellers by name, not as numbers. What's your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why? Advanced Style. Ari Seth Cohen is an incredibly talented photographer and blogger that chronicles the fashion, adventures, and wisdom of older women on Instagram. I am lucky enough to know some of these illustrious Advanced Style ladies personally and count them as among the most creative and inspirational individuals I've ever met. As a passionate devotee of vintage cruise wear and over-sized costume jewelry, this is my go-to source for fashion tips. How do you keep track of everything you have to do. I use Evernote + GTD to keep track of my tasks, ideas, and notes. I use Post-its on the inside of a vintage steamer trunk at home to keep track of my personal projects and dreams. The toughest thing for me to keep track of is all of the activities that I want to do, so I created Make Today Awesome for that (development credit and infinite gratitude for that goes to the amazing Adam Anderson who was an engineer at ProFounder, my last startup). What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you're in a rut? I've been a competitive powerlifter for the last 15 years and nothing makes me feel more refreshed, clear minded, and empowered than lifting very heavy things. In general, I love anything fitness related and am a regular at everything from underwater cycling to trampoline yoga, but the weight room is ultimate happy place. Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why? Don Giustino. Don Giustino is a Benedictine monk at the L'Abbazia di Praglia and develops cosmetics sold at the monastery. Stanford was gracious (crazy?) enough to let me pause my engineering work in college to study the development of skincare products by Italian Benedictine Monks and that's how he and I met. He has achieved his own amazing version of 'having it all' by finding time to grow his cosmetic chemistry expertise within the constraints of his regimented prayer schedule and limited access to resources at the monastery. He also never stops reaching for greatness, and every time I visit him he has iterated on his formulas and made them better. Most importantly, he is deeply, authentically happy and has taught me to be the same.
News Article | April 25, 2013
Wunderlist has been a to-do and GTD app staple since its launch back in 2010, but 6Wunderkinder, the company behind it, has always given away its products free of charge, free of advertising and available across a variety of platforms. Now, the Berlin-based startup is debuting its first efforts at monetization with Wunderlist Pro, a new premium subscription option open to all Wunderlist users. This first version of Wunderlist Pro is essentially the addition of one new feature, which 6Wunderkinder CEO Christian Reber says was far and away the top requested one being asked for by Wunderlist users. Wunderlist Pro’s flagship addition is the ability to assign tasks to specific colleagues and friends, making for easier delegation across a team of Wunderlist users. Also available on the $4.99 per month (or $49.99 if you commit to a full year) plan is the ability to set unlimited subtasks for any single task, and a selection of eight new in-app backgrounds. “Our goal was to start really simple, and to deliver the most-requested feature, and the feature we’re working on now is files, which will come in the next update of Wunderlist Pro, hopefully at the end of May,” Reber said. “And then we will improve it step-by-step and add new features.” Essentially, Reber says that this first release of Wunderlist Pro is a way to introduce the concept to its existing users, and the startup expects that initially at least, it will mostly appeal to the company’s superfans and power users, those who have in some cases been seeking ways to pay Wunderkind for its existing services already. The startup learned a valuable lesson from trying to do too much too soon when it originally launched using cross-platform development tools, and then later had to make the tough decision to switch to native apps for each type of device on which it appears. This time around, 6Wunderkinder intends to focus on each new Wunderlist Pro feature and stagger their release, which should see the introduction of around three or four new Pro-specific updates over the coming months. The pricing won’t change, however: all new Pro features will be available to those who sign up at the current rate. Eventually, features will start to help Wunderlist target SMB and enterprise customers, as it looks to become more of an Asana competitor. Reber admits that brings new challenges, but also thinks Wunderlist’s existing success will help with that. “Our advantage is definitely that we launched this with a large user base, and probably a much larger user base than most of our competitors have,” he said. “But still it’s a challenge to convince people that Wunderlist is really not just a to-do app. At the moment, all our challenges are technical, I think, and in the long-term we’ll see how we can grow in enterprises and adapt to meet their requirements.” Basic Wunderlist users don’t have to worry about being ignored, either, Reber says, as development resources will continue to be fed into the free product. The next few updates will focus on Pro, just to get that offering caught up, but after that, updates should arrive with improvements to both sides of the business. Wunderlist Pro is available on iPhone, iPad, Mac and the web, with Android and Windows versions to follow shortly.
News Article | February 15, 2013
Not many entrepreneurs manage a big-bucks exit to a tech giant such as BlackBerry (formally known as RIM) , but that’s exactly what TAT-founder Hampus Jakobsson did more than two years ago. TAT stands for The Astonishing Tribe, and back in December 2010, the Swedish team joined RIM in the wake of a $150m acquisition to work on the BlackBerry PlayBook and smartphone platforms. TAT made a name for itself based on its mobile UX and UI designs, and was used by numerous companies. At planet BlackBerry, TAT (and thus Jakobsson) were heavily involved in the design for BlackBerry 10, but he opted to leave the company last summer, indicating a desire to launch another startup. While there was a shortage of specifics at the time, all has now been revealed. Step forward Dexplora, a new company built by TAT founders Jakobsson and Mikael Tellhed, that’s focusing on building mobile apps for the enterprise, the first of which is GetSalesDone which launched this week in private beta. “GetSalesDone is like a GTD system built on top of the CRM system,” explains Jakobsson. “At TAT, we spent all our living time fixing the UI of mobile phones, while we sat in the enterprise software of CRMs, time-reporting, project-planning and so on,” he continues. “We of course updated all these systems to the latest SaaS systems and didn’t use dinosaur software, but anyhow, the user experience was abysmal.” And so, after almost two years at RIM, Jakobsson and Tellhed decided they wanted to fix that problem. “We want beautiful and easy to use enterprise software,” says Jakobsson. As with any new platform, it’s helpful to know what problem exactly it’s trying to solve. Having never really worked in the sales realm before myself, I’ve no real concept of how a typical sales person would operate when trying to seal a deal. “It really depends on how rigid the management is about recording, but what most people do is when they call and talk to customers, they don’t report it in the CRM system at all,” explains Jakobsson. ” “But when something really obvious and tangible happens, for example sending the NDA or a quote, then they’ll put a note in the CRM System, and then on Friday afternoon they’ll look at their calendar to get as much of it right as they can,” he continues. “That’s what most people do – and I’d say a lot of sales people don’t even use the CRM system at all, they’ll use Microsoft Excel, which scales really badly of course.” The problem, as they see it, is that CRM software is great for many things, but at that very initial point, where a sales person is working to build and develop customer relations in the first instance, there is a big gap. But it’s every bit as procedural as other facets of business, and thus should be recorded accordingly – which is where a dedicated mobile app comes into play, meaning they can update on the spot when they’re out and about. “CRM Systems are great, you can have multiple people inputting the same thing, it logs all the changes, it’s a really good system for business intelligence, but it’s a database with a UI slapped on top of it,” adds Jakobsson. “And Salesforce is the best thing out there, it’s enterprise grade, Saas-based, really secure, and you can get new people on and off it super easy. But their actual customers are the IT department and the managers.” So Dexplora set about working on GetSalesDone, an iOS app for sales people that follows similar design principles as to what you may already be familiar with in other productivity apps such as Clear. A Web app will follow at some point too, but for now the mobile app is where it’s at, integrating with the Salesforce API, so that management and others can continue to use the CRM, while sales folk on the ground can access a separate interface built with them specifically in mind. The mobile app is currently in beta, but will be hitting the App Store “within weeks,” and Android, BlackBerry and other versions will follow in due course. If you’re used to other to-do list apps, then the interface here certainly looks familiar, with pulls and swipes the order of the day. The app essentially makes ‘opportunities’, ‘contacts’ and ‘accounts’ accessible on the move, while letting users create individual tasks that they can ‘swipe’ off when they’re complete. So GetSalesDone seems to be about tidying up the current CRM system, ensuring opportunities aren’t missed and giving sales people a tool they actually want to use. “Sales people must get better tools,” says Jakobsson. “We know that if the UX of the CRM is great they would actually use it – not only wielding better results for the company, but of course also making the reports more accurate.”
News Article | August 8, 2013
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Ilya Pozin, the founder of Ciplex, and a columnist on entrepreneurship and marketing. I’ve found that I function best when there’s a lot on my plate. I’m one of those “work-well-under-pressure” type of entrepreneurs. Maybe you can relate. But there’s one thing I can’t stand: repetitive tasks. These are things that should be automated. I’m always on the hunt for tips, tricks, and tools to improve my productivity. If I can save five minutes on a daily task, it’s likely to add up to a huge ROI. Are you looking to add an extra hour to your day? Here are 10 repetitive tasks you can make more efficient: If you’re one of the many people who use Gmail or Google Apps as their email interface, then it may be time to consider a plugin to increase your inbox efficiency. I try to live by the general principles of Getting Things Done (GTD). I’ve read every variation in both articles and books. In a nutshell, your goal is to organize your to-do list. For me, the majority of my to-dos exist within my email — so why not boost efficiency and turn your email inbox into a GTD system? With ActiveInbox, you can do just that by organizing tasks in the following categories: Action Items, Waiting On, Someday Tasks. ActiveInbox is my only to-do system. And the best part of this tool is that adding a personal to-do to your list is done by simply sending an email to yourself. Being busy often means you’re constantly on the go. This makes informing different people of your location (or when you’ll arrive) a hectic process. But with Glympse, a person-to-person location sharing app, you can quickly share where you are, with whomever you like. This doesn’t require others to sign up or sign in — other users don’t even need to download an app. Unlike other location sharing apps, Glympse only shares your location around a specific time interval. In fact, you can set it up to stop sharing automatically when you get to your location. If you’re attending a scheduled meeting, clicking on button will send an email or text to the attendees with a link to a Google Map showing your location. Let’s face it: Texts can be time-consuming. This is why I use SwiftKey. This input method for Android devices let’s you type in an easier, faster, and less frustrating way. Instead of touching each letter to type, you just drag your finger from letter to letter. It uses artificial intelligence technologies that enable it to predict the next work you’re going to type. Sometimes finding a meeting time that works for a group of people can take longer than the actual meeting. But with ScheduleOnce, everyone can easily see your availability and select options for the time and duration of each meeting. Now you can avoid those productivity-killing back-and-forth emails. When it comes to managing my personal brand on social media, it’s important that I have a consistent flow of content. I’m usually strapped for time when it comes to posting to my social media accounts, so I use Buffer to help me. Buffer automatically queues content that I select and posts it at the time I choose. It’s pretty handy for when I find something interesting through aimless browsing. Skype is by far the best free video-chat software available, and almost everyone in a business setting is already using it. With Skype, I don’t have to wait to know when a coworker or colleague is available. I can get a message through quickly and know it’s been received. Since I don’t use business cards, I have a handy way of collecting names and information when I’m networking. I just tell people to email me, because WriteThat.Name will help me to get their information organized and saved. This tool gathers information from the signatures of emails to sort and archive contacts automatically. Operating on cloud architecture, it only requires your email to use the service. I’ve saved hours of tedious updating through this tool. To me, a cluttered inbox is similar to a cluttered mind. One of my biggest distractions comes from sorting my inbox, but with Unroll.me, I can cut time spent in my inbox in half. It allows me to mass unsubscribe from lists, and organize the emails I want to receive into a single email. Whenever I want to quickly share an image I use Imgur. It’s a free image hosting site that requires no sign in. The link provided to you can be used in emails, IMs, and through social media. When you need to quickly upload and share files, Wikisend does the trick. With no login required, you can upload and share files up to 100MB. When it comes to maximizing your time, it’s better to examine the details rather than the big processes. These are the areas where you have the greatest opportunity for becoming efficient. Use these tools to save a few minutes here and there — they add up! What are some time-saving tools you’re currently using?
News Article | February 28, 2014
Denis Duvauchelle is CEO and co-founder of Twoodo, helping your team organize itself using simple #hashtags. When you look at any of the thought leaders in marketing and copywriting, read any top keyword research guide (from Hubspot, Copyblogger, Moz) they will all tell you the same thing: You gotta get your keyword research right. What will keyword research impact on? Why? Language links to identity. You need to know the language your (potential) customers are using. If you do not use similar language, you cannot attract more and will alienate the ones you have. We are a team collaboration tool. We found that amongst others we appealed to people interested in the GTD (Getting Things Done) movement after our keyword research. Sure, it had crossed our minds but we assumed it was not that important. Language is a tool you can use to build data about your ideal users, where they are, how to find them and how to attract them. The language you use impacts the copywriting of your website, email transactions, tweets, blog posts, press releases, customer support messages. People identify with the things they use – here are some amazing survey results about iPhones, Androids and Blackberry users: …and without having to go into detail, you can instantly imagine the ads for each of these products and nod in agreement. Apple appealing to the vain? Blackberry appealing to the business class? Yes, that sounds right. These companies got their language right. They got their keywords right. This allowed them to target the people who would get the most value out of their products. This is customer discovery at its most primitive stage. And a lot of people get it wrong. Let’s start by mentioning a few well-known facts. You are not going to rank for a singular word. If you are selling wine online, you are not going to rank for “wine.” It’s going to be at least a two-word phrase, if not more. As a newcomer, you will have to get a) specific and b) creative with your keyword targeting. Creative: Say it in a way that still makes sense to the core product. It’s harder than it looks. Let’s make a hypothetical case study for “tailored suits.” Don’t forget to use quotation marks at all times in your search to keep the search accurate. Make a list of as many grammatical variations as possible about the core things your product does/offers/solves. If you are having trouble feeling inspired, sometimes the WebCorpLSE tool works (but it is a little limited). It is a database of online language that allows you to see the most common phrases that people use around a word. In the filters on the side, you can choose how many surrounding words are visible (more gives you more context, but less gives you focused keywords): What I learn from this is that “tailored suits” are often accompanied by luxury words such as “exquisite.” This indicates the section of society I should look to and the style of copy I should use. Also, black accessories are mentioned twice. I may need to consider black as an important color on my website. Pro tip: if you feel overwhelmed, start with 10, run them through the process, and then return and try the next 10. Scroll to the bottom and check out what the suggested phrases are; list the most likely (eliminate question words like “what is…”) Also, it can be useful to see what Google predicts you are typing – this indicates how someone would find what you are trying to offer them. Make a note of relevant suggestions. If you have doubts about Google’s trustworthiness, try an alternative search such as a forum or Bing. I decided to use a personal favorite (Quora) just out of curiosity: So far, just from the first step, we have learned that there is interest in a) the cost of tailored suits, b) people want to get them online, c) they want to know if tailored suits are really worth it and d) there is a strong interest in the USA and China. This is fantastic! You can help answer those questions and solve those pains. Before you get over-excited though, put these bits of data to the test through the rest of the steps. The Google keyword planner is made for Google Adwords, rather than organic searches. However, it is one of the most common industry search tools to indicate the popularity of search terms in general. Go to Google AdWords – tools – keyword planner. Choose the first search options, type in “tailored suits,” hit enter and then choose the tab “keyword ideas.” Let’s compare a general search to a search based on some of the information we have gleaned from step 2: Interesting! It seems that “custom made” and “tailor made” are candidates. That’s not to say that the general results are not useful – it depends if you think your service needs to be geographically limited or not. But the filters make a huge difference in the keywords you can end up targeting. Take advantage of the 30-day free trial if you are not sure about signing up. Moz has great research tools, with my favorite being the “keyword difficulty” tool. The first column is the “keyword difficulty” rating. Aim for Note that in the filters you can choose between different countries and Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines. If you happen to know what search engine your users use most, great! If not, Google is the most common. You can export the Google keyword planner results and Moz results to .csv and start eliminating keywords that just don’t fit your product (keyword research does tend to get out of hand at times). 6. Cross-check which keywords fit the criteria of Google’s low competition Select words that have high monthly searches and low Moz difficulty. Search each keyword and mark the wikipedia URL closest to the keyword. Why? Wikipedia results rank top of Google search results more often than not. You’ll be looking for what the Wikipedia pages are ranking for, and if you can fine-tune your shortlist. 9. Run the URL of wikipedia page through Google keyword planner and see what it ranks for. …and you should get something like this (after applying filters – mine were >1000 and low): 10. Test these keywords in Moz – and make your final list Run them through Moz and find out their difficulty rating, just as in step 4. Take anything with less than 50 percent difficulty. Now, hopefully you have a massive database of information about a) the social and cultural status of your ideal customer, b) the language they use, c) the locations where your company may be more/less successful and d) what parts of the market are saturated. You now have key information to support the website design, the copy style and a content marketing strategy. You can use these keywords to find influencers, find trending stories, or find followers for your social accounts. Oh, and you’re ready and set to go with the next part of what the keyword research is the base of: building backlinks to increase rankings and improve SEO.
News Article | December 5, 2013
One of the more popular app Kickstarter campaigns in recent memory is the one for Mail Pilot, an app that allows you to tame your inbox by treating it like a to-do list. In April, Mail Pilot was released for iOS, and users were told that a public beta was coming soon. And now it’s here! The idea behind Mail Pilot is simple. Unless you use your email solely for the pleasure of correspondence, chances are that your inbox is filled with things you need to do: emails you need to reply to, emails filled with instructions from your boss, even emails you need to delete, file or forward. Mail Pilot just treats that idea literally, allowing you to not just read and reply to emails, but check them off and schedule emails for later, just as if it were a GTD app. That’s Mail Pilot’s strength. Coupled with a powerful backend and a sleek flat interface that looks very much at home on iOS 7, Mail Pilot on iOS is one of the most intuitive and powerful ways to manage your email. Now it’s available for everyone to try on the Mac. There are a few issues with the app. If you use Gmail, emails aren’t marked as read, for example. Still, this is a public beta, and there’s a chance these hiccups will be addressed before the app’s official release. If you’d like to try Mail Pilot, you can sign up for the free Public Preview on Mail Pilot’s official site.
News Article | May 9, 2014
They say your email inbox is a terrible place to manage tasks. I’d disagree. I think it’s the perfect place. After all, most of my tasks come in via email, and any app that can share information can share it via email. Why bother dickering with an extra app, keeping all that important stuff in two places, when it can all be easily managed in one spot? I’ve been doing exactly this ever since I ditched OmniFocus, which is so long ago I can’t remember how long ago it was. With a little bit of setup in your everyday news and browsing apps, you can turn your inbox into a proper universal task list. Here’s how. This tutorial will use your email account, Mr. Reader (for RSS news items), Twitterrific and Drafts, plus one simple mail rule to organize things behind the scenes. You can gussy things up with all kinds of extras, but the core system is both solid and flexible. Like I say, I’ve been using it for months and it’s way better than anything else I’ve tried. If you make use of lots of separate projects, or have specific needs for metadata and GTD contexts, then maybe you should stick with something like OmniFocus or Things. But you’d be surprised just how far my mail-based system can stretch. First, it might be worth describing the kinds of things I save. I write about hardware, gadgets and apps, so my work mailbox is the place for anything I’d like to write a post about. These can come from regular emails, or from RSS, or from Twitter or anywhere else. I even have a Drafts action that will mail notes straight to this address so I can send myself reminders about things I find in the real world. I use Fastmail. The company is Australian and therefore out of the jurisdictional reach of the National Security Agency and its spooks, but the main reason is that it’s The Best. The webmail interface is better than many native apps (I use the webmail 95 percent of the time on iOS — that’s how good it is). Plus it’s quick. You lose nice things like Gmail tags and IFTTT integration, but it’s worth it. In order to keep my actual inbox clutter-free, I use a special mail folder for my to-dos. It’s called Omni, because I used to use it with OmniFocus and why change it? It’s a regular Mailbox, so go ahead and set that up, and then make a rule that works like the following, in whichever mail service you use: This takes any email sent to my Omni address (anything will do here, as long as it’s different from your usual plain email address) and files it into the Omni folder, skipping the inbox. This is pretty much the entire setup. I also have (confusingly) another rule called “To-do,” which I use for non-work-related reminders. You could make as many of these as you’d like, filtering different mails into different places. But that’s so complex you might be better of with a task-manager app. One note: This is best done on the server side. That is, the rules are run by your mail service on its own servers, and the filing is done before you ever see it. You could use mail rules in the Mail app, but they’ll only run when your Mac is switched on. Server-side rules let you use this whole system on an iPhone, no Mac required. When I’m checking my regular incoming mail, I can just add the relevant messages to the Omni mailbox. In Mac OS X Mail, you can use keyboard shortcuts to do this, but I do it in Fastmail’s web interface on my iPad, mostly because it’s so fast and easy. Mr. Reader is my RSS feed reader of choice for two reasons. First, it’s fast and just great to use. Second, you can add all kinds of custom actions. You can send articles to Pocket or other apps on your iPad, but the thing I use it for is – you guessed it – email. I have a custom action set up that lets me mail a whole article off in three taps – one to open the sharing menu, one to choose the Omni service, and one to send the resulting mail. That’s pretty easy. This is the rule, which you can also install from here. This is the code that you need to put in the action. Make sure you also set it to be sent as an HTML mail so it’ll show up nice in your mail client. I have the source URL in there, too, so I can quickly copy the link for proper attribution in posts. You can tweak this as you like. With this action, I can quickly send any article, in full fancy HTML so it looks just like the RSS entry, to my Omni inbox, ready to write up later. Twitter integration is an example for the “everything else” category. That is, you just email the tweets to your special address and your mail rule takes care of filing. There’s not much to this part, other than that it’s easier if you have the email address in your address book. But if you just tap it in manually a few times, iOS will remember it for you. It might also be a smart trick to add your email address as a keyboard shortcut in the iOS settings, so you can simply type a few letters and have it expand the whole thing wherever you are on your iPad or iPhone. Drafts does so much, letting you take text from almost anywhere and send it to almost anywhere else. In this case I’m using it for one simple thing: to send a quick mail to my Omni mailbox address. Drafts opens to an empty text field, so you just type or paste in your words, then hit the share button and choose a service to send it to. My custom email action is called OmniMail (surprise!) and it’s set up like this: The subject line can be preset, but I just have it as the first line of the body text. I also choose to have the email sent in the background, which uses a mail server built into the app and means I don’t need to deal with a popover mail sheet and hit send for every message. This would be a great feature for Mr. Reader, too. I can’t help you with this part. You just need to make sure you check your special mailbox often enough to make it useful. I live out of my Omni mailbox, spending more time there than in my inbox. But that other to-do mailbox I mentioned? I hardly ever look in there. In this regard, my method is much like any other to-do system — you have to actually stay on top of it. But in every other regard it’s better, for me at least. It’s there in every mail app I ever use, and every web browser. It’s fast, and I never have to worry about whether I have the task in my email or my task-manager app. In fact, there’s almost no maintenance at all. You just save tasks, then act on them. Ironically, since I just changed the focus of my job here at CoM to write more features, I’m going to need a way to work with projects. Creating new folders for each project is easy enough in Fastmail (and even easier in Gmail with labels), but the auto-filing will need special rules for each new project, which is a pain to manage. If you have any ideas, hit me up on Twitter. Likewise, that’s the best place for feedback in general.
News Article | April 9, 2013
Is GTD (Getting Things Done) the one thing that is always on your mind? Especially if you are that lynchpin or that super talented marketing professional who juggles their tasks, e-mails, contacts and a lot of items that keep you occupied for most of your productive time? Whether you are working in a startup or an environment in a bigger marketing firm which is very process-oriented and specific in terms of the targets, results and metrics that you want to focus on, being productive is always something that keeps you driving on. Recently I came across Brightpod. It is a cloud collaboration software that helps digital agencies and marketing teams to organize, manage, automate & track marketing projects, commonly referred to as Pods in their app which actually answers some of these questions of mine: So much so, that off late, I've been managing tasks using EverNote. That's when I'm working alone though. So collaboration could be a little simpler, if it'd be cleaner and less cluttered. That's something that I've always wondered. And I had a chance to give Brightpod a try and also talk to Sahil Parikh, co-founder of BrightPod, in an e-mail interview. Now, specifically, this product is very useful for digital marketers especially with their modules that include specific workflows that come in handy especially for digital marketers. Such as scheduling tweets via Buffer, Managing LinkedIn and Wordpress, creating email marketing templates etc. That's something I find relevant from a digital marketer perspective, having worked in that industry. While it is simple as of now. There are only some features and templates as part of the workflow as of now. As a digital marketer some additional workflows and platforms could be helpful and that would be the part of the product hopefully soon, considering it's in private beta. How would that happen without losing the simplistic element is something I'd like to see. It actually helps users to create projects, known as Pods. They can various templates of tasks and milestones for separate kinds of workflows. Whether you have an e-mail marketing initiative, a recruiting ad campaign on LinkedIn, a WordPress blog to set up or a Twitter schedule to manage, Brightpod is certainly useful in this aspect. Another interesting perspective this tool brings with itself is its clean and simple UI and design philosophy which makes my task of adding and managing tasks easier, so that I end up spending lesser time on actually setting/managing and working around the scheduled tasks. I tried out an e-mail workflow and Twitter workflow. Setting up the workflows might be a little tricky and might take some time, but once it's set up using the tool was easier. Using Brightpod is very easy and doesn’t need much time to get around it. It's a good tool to cut down on all the confusion and clutter caused by long email chains while working with teams and clients on the same project. Plus, its neat and clean UI is a joy to use. One of the things I like is the simple drag-and-drop of tasks from and out of Focus. The whole experience is simply intuitive. Overall, the features are very minimalistic and simpler to use, of the other collaboration tools I have come across. After experiencing Brightpod and some other collaborative tools before, I had a few questions that I think may be useful for all you readers as well. Oh, and yes, Sahil was kind enough to give readers of ZDNet a trial code since they are in private beta. You can sign up using the code "zdnet" on Brightpod.com. Moving on, here's what Sahil had to say about his idea behind making this product and how it'll help digital marketers do their jobs more efficiently. About a year ago our team saw an opportunity in designing an app for marketing and creative teams. Most of them currently use a general purpose collaboration tool. We wanted to help them grow their business by making it easy to plan, organize and track all their digital marketing projects in one place. In addition, clients are spending more and more money on digital marketing. Marketing firms have more work that they can handle. This is where Brightpod comes in. We have also been witnessing a surge in signups from marketing teams with feature requests aimed at marketing/campaign related projects--stuff that they require. They felt it was chaotic to plan and track progress of various marketing projects/campaigns (SEO, Twitter, LinkedIn, and etc.) when working with multiple people and clients. Plus, the thrill to put back what I learnt with my previous product DeskAway into a new one written from scratch using the latest technologies. My latest blog sums my learnings being the SaaS space for six years pretty well. They are all general-purpose project management tools that are designed for generic use-cases. Configuring them to match a specific requirement could be tough. Brightpod is specially being designed to power up marketing teams--startups, smaller creative firms or teams within larger agencies. Brightpod has pre-built marketing workflows, Dropbox integration , custom workflows, Flow view (drag and drop), Focus page (zoom into your work) and an Attention page (stuff that requires your attention). With Brightpod, we have features that can give your team the bigger picture as well as allow them to zoom into their work I personally just love the name. It came at a premium but I had to get it. To me, a pod signifies a "team" or a "workplace". So, in essence, building a "smart team". Can you spot the brain in the logo? Our product philosophy is LISTEN ME ACT. LISTEN to what users have to say. Keep listening. Get a feel of what they want and the different ways they use Brightpod. ME is what we want in the app. We use Brightpod daily so it is important to build stuff that we love and want. More than features, keeping the app clean, well designed, simple, clutter-free and fast is our top priority. We are looking at the following features: Getting your team onboard a collaboration software is the biggest challenge. Hence, we have made Brightpod to be ridiculously simple to use with a very clean experience. Our team is betting on simplicity. We don't care if we have fewer or many features. What matters to us is whether our software is easy to use, clean, clutter-free and smart. As we use more software to run our businesses we want to feel good at the end of the day. This would differ from person to person. I had a similar problem with LinkedIn notifications but I use filters to send these emails to a Label in Gmail. Similarly, as we talk to our users we feel that: E-mail notification is important to them so that they can reply on the go. Some of them have created filters and they look at them once a day. A daily digest is helpful to sum up their team's work without logging into the app. Our design philosophy has always been one thing--SIMPLICITY. Keep thing simple. Keep the UI simple. Have less things on a page. Again, we don't care if we have fewer or many features. What matters to us is whether our software is easy to use, clean, clutter-free and smart. It is important for people to feel good when they use Brightpod. You can reach out to Sahil on Twitter @SahilParikh
News Article | June 16, 2015
It's 10:47 a.m., and David Allen, the man behind the world's most popular productivity system and eponymous bestselling book, is sitting across from me at a cafe in Amsterdam, sipping a glass of white wine. He wants to clarify something. "People assume that I am a hard-working, left-brained, results-oriented, OCD, anal-retentive kind of guy," he says with a laugh. "In fact, the reason that I was attracted to this work was that it allowed me to be more creative, more spontaneous, freer. I’m a freedom guy." After spending most of his life in California, where he founded Getting Things Done, Allen moved to Amsterdam a year ago with his wife, Kathryn: Another goal on the path to freedom—done. "It was on our Someday/Maybe list," he says. He’s busy educating himself on Dutch art and history as well as setting up a European GTD operation. Allen started out as an unlikely business guru. In the early 1970s, he dropped out of a PhD program in American history at UC Berkeley, briefly ended up in a mental institution, taught karate to make ends meet (he has a black belt) and became a minister of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, a new-age church founded in 1971, with an emphasis on meditation and what it calls as "practical spirituality." GTD is often thought of as a time management system. Allen insists it's more of a space management system. He was also fascinated by Zen Buddhism and the martial arts, both of which had a strong influence of the development of GTD. Allen has even described GTD as a martial art. "What was driving all that was my attraction to clear space," he says. "I love the negative space and the minimalist aspect of the Zen aesthetic." Although it’s often seen as a complicated time management system, GTD, according to Allen, is really about creating mental space. "You can’t manage time," he says. "Time just is. That’s not the big issue. The big issue is really space. When people say they need time management, it’s usually because something is feeling out of control or inappropriately focused." Allen doesn’t think GTD is really about productivity either, at least not in the traditional business sense. "Being productive means producing desired experiences or results. Do you want to relax? If it takes you three quarters of your holiday to relax from the last two days of getting ready—not exactly your most productive vacation." GTD consists of five basic steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. Capturing means making a list of all the things which consume your attention. Many people already run into trouble at this stage. "A big addiction is to keeping stuff in your head," says Allen. "I think it gives people a false sense of control: ‘I will feel more out of control if I look at how out of control I am.’" "People get mad at me for their list and I am going, 'I’m sorry. ‘That ain't my list, sweetie. You are the one who made those commitments.’" The first step of GTD is to get all the things you need or want to do—buying cat food, starting a company—out of your head and into a trusted external system. Only once you "capture" do you decide whether you are focused on the right things. Allen describes six horizons of focus, working up from your daily errands and tasks through projects, the areas of your life those projects fit into—finances, career, relationships, health—and finally to your overall purpose as a human being. Bringing those horizons into balance requires reflection, he says. "If you want to say, 'Am I focused on the right thing?' I would say, which one of those conversations has not been matured sufficiently or lined up with the other ones appropriately? Some people need to focus more on their goals. Some people need to stop focusing on their goals and actually get shit done." Often the things rattling around in your head are not the most urgent or important things you need to do—collecting the dry cleaning, calling your cousin, making dinner—but they all consume mental space. "If you don’t handle the unimportant things, they start to suck energy out of the important things," says Allen. "It’s not just about the important things. It’s about everything." Step two is clarifying exactly what each of the items captured means to you. Should you be paying attention to this at all? If yes, then what outcome would you like? Is it actionable and what’s the next action you should take? "It’s really about appropriate engagement," says Allen. "The only reason that something is going to be nagging on you or pulling on you is because you are not yet appropriately engaged with it. Appropriate engagement doesn’t mean that you have to finish it. You just have to be in the driving seat about what you are doing with it or not." Making considered decisions like this is tiring, which is why we often avoid it and stay in busy mode instead. In fact, Allen insists, making no decision about an item in your inbox is also a decision, and requires just as much cognitive effort. In the next step—organize—you store action reminders on a list of one-off actions (e.g. buy milk), project action lists (projects require more than one action to complete) or your calendar (meeting with Bill). "Most people are using their mind to remember and remind, and it does not do that," says Allen. "What it does do is recognize patterns and make intuitive judgments about how to allocate your resources. You are great at recognizing. You can’t recall worth crap. You forget where you left your keys." So by entrusting all your reminders to an external system, you free up your mind to do just that. Next, reflect on your to-do list by breaking it down into easily digestible steps, and determining which ones you can handle now and which you should delegate. Finally you switch to execution mode—engage—by looking at your next action lists and making an intuitive judgement about what to do now based on your location, energy level, and priorities. Which may mean deciding to do nothing. "A hallmark of how well you can do this methodology is how well you can do nothing. How well can you actually have nothing on your mind?" Allen is a big fan of doing nothing, of daydreaming and napping as a means of engaging the reflective as opposed to the reflex brain. But having loose ends, or open loops, cluttering up your headspace makes that difficult. "If you still need cat food, you can’t fully focus in an undistracted way and you can’t stop and relax. People think meditation is stopping the world and having the world go quiet. No. The universe is always on. It’s just which part of it you want to listen to. If you are distracted by the noise of Leidseplein"—one of Amsterdam's bustling nightlife neighborhoods—"it’s kinda hard to notice the subtleties of a Rembrandt drawing." Allen has a theory about why GTD has such a rabid following among software developers in particular—and why they don't completely get it. "The techies love GTD because it is an intact system—no holes in it. They are as lazy almost as me. Their whole industry is a productivity industry. What they don’t realize is that it is a methodology, and not a technology. It’s a thought process." That thought process takes some time to master, around two years according to Allen. Creatives like GTD for different reasons. "They like space. They like room: room to think, room to be creative." But GTD’s most surprising superfans have their minds on higher things. "The clergy love it," says Allen. "I have often argued that we should create a clerGTD. From any and all denominations. It’s quite ecumenical. They know how to do the God stuff, but it’s all the stuff they have to handle that they weren’t trained to do. The more they do that, the more they can focus on the more meaningful stuff." The clergy may be converts, but not everyone is. Lifehacker’s Dustin Wax observed: "There is a powerful urge to create GTD-free zones, usually in the home—we apparently find it distasteful to reduce our non-working lives to a set of next actions and project lists." Some have argued that GTD does not lend itself to creative work, while Geekpreneur offers "26 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use GTD", complaining that: "It’s dull, it’s difficult, it’s about as satisfying as an air sandwich. And it doesn’t work." Allen takes the skepticism and the mischaracterizations in stride, and with a sip of wine. "The people who are most attracted to GTD are the people who need it the least," he muses. "What this system does is it releases drag on the system. Who is most aware of drag on the system? The most productive people."